By Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her. Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. Genesis 16:1-4 NIV
While driving around town, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. If I take more than one second to hit the gas pedal after a light turns green, the driver behind me inevitably honks at me.
Maybe I’m getting slower, but I think the problem runs deeper. As a society, we are growing more impatient. Think about it: if our fast food doesn’t come out fast enough, we complain. When an event or speaker goes long, we squirm and look at our phones. If our favorite show gets interrupted while we’re streaming it, we groan. Technology has made our lives easier in some ways, but it has also made us feel entitled to have things instantly.
Or maybe that’s just me.
During my fifty years of life, I’ve waited on more significant things, too. When I met my husband, I’d dated enough not-quite-right guys to realize Carey was “the one.” But we remained in the friend zone for eleven long months before he realized I was the one for him. Then, as a young newlywed, I waited to conceive, then suffered an early miscarriage. I also waited and worked for five years—garnering fifty rejections–before becoming a published author.
God used each of these waiting seasons to teach me about Himself and reveal areas where He needed to work on me. He patiently and tenderly carved away my pride, self-sufficiency, and tendency to be driven instead of led.
Sarah knew impatience, too. In fact, she waited not for minutes or months, but decades to see a promise fulfilled. God had told Abraham that He would make him into a great nation, with descendants too numerous to count. But He didn’t reveal the “when” or the “how.” In fact, until Genesis 17, Sarah wasn’t mentioned at all, and she may have wondered how she fit with it all.
Most likely, the first few post-promise years were filled with hope and anticipation. As time sped by, though, and her body began to change and slow down, Sarah surely entertained doubts. Had Abraham heard God correctly? What if she or Abraham done something to prevent the promise from being fulfilled? And most important–would the promised child have to come from her own womb?
Like many of us, Sarah saw an opportunity to “help God out” when she looked at her young slave, Hagar. She offered Hagar to her husband, justifying it in her humanness. Abraham, too, rationalized the action instead of seeking God’s will on the matter.
I wonder if I’d have done the same.
However, God didn’t decide to cancel his promise to Sarah because of her impatience and willfulness. He still made her the mother of Isaac, and he made Abraham the father of the great nation of Israel.
Sarah and Abraham are even mentioned in the “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11.
That’s good news for me—and for you. Our lack of faith and patience won’t keep God from fulfilling His work in our lives.
Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve jumped ahead and tried to help you out. Keep me content and patient, with my ears tuned to your Spirit. May I be faithful, not faith-less. Amen.
About the author: This article was adapted from Dena and Carey’s book, Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples (Barbour). Dena Dyer is the author or co-author of ten books for women and hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and websites. She lives in Texas with Carey and their sons Jordan and Jackson. She loves bargain shopping, decorating, and traveling. Find her on Instagram and Facebook, or at her website.
Join the conversation: Have you ever tried to “help” God? What happened?